— by Jake Sharfman
Over 1200 members from the Bnei Menashe community of northeastern India celebrated Yom Ha’atzmaut and the resumption of their Aliyah to Israel yesterday with a festive celebration in the town of Churachandpur in the northeastern Indian state of Manipur.
The gathering, which was sponsored and organized by the Shavei Israel organization, was the largest in the Bnei Menashe community’s history. Just last October, the Israeli government lifted a five-year ban on the Aliyah of Bnei Menashe in a unanimous decision. Since then, over 270 Bnei Menashe have been brought on Aliyah by Shavei Israel.
More after the jump.
“This Yom Ha’atzmaut is particularly poignant for the Bnei Menashe,” Shavei Israel Founder and Chairman Michael Freund said.
With the resumption of the Aliyah from India, the community’s dream of returning to the land of their ancestors is finally coming to fruition. In the coming months, with G-d’s help, we aim to bring another 900 Bnei Menashe back home to Zion.
“There has never been such a joyous event like this before in our community. We are celebrating in spirit with our Bnei Menashe brothers and sisters who have already made Aliyah to Israel in hopes that we will be joining them very soon,” said Yochanon Phaltual, a Bnei Menashe member who organized the event.
To celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut with the realistic hope of making Aliyah soon fills my heart with joy. I was especially moved when we all stood up and sang Hatikvah. That was a very special moment for me and I really hope that we can all sing it together next year in Jerusalem.